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Change in practice in gynecologic oncology during the COVID-19 pandemic: a social media survey
  1. Fabio Martinelli1 and
  2. Annalisa Garbi2
  1. 1 Gynecologic Oncology, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan, Italy
  2. 2 Gynecologic Oncology, European Institute of Oncology, Milano, Lombardia, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Fabio Martinelli, Gynecologic Oncology, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori, Milan 20133, Italy; Fabio.Martinelli{at}


Objective COVID-19 has affected gynecologic cancer management. The goal of this survey was to evaluate changes that occurred in gynecologic oncology practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods A anonymous survey consisting of 33 questions ( regarding interaction between gynecologic cancers and COVID-19 was distributed online via social media from April 9 to April 30, 2020. Basic descriptive statistics were applied. Analytics of survey-diffusion and generated-interest (visualizations, engagement rates, response rate) were analyzed.

Results The survey received 20 836 visualizations, generating an average engagement rates by reach of 4.7%. The response rate was 30%. A total of 86% of respondents completed the survey, for a total of 187 physicians surveyed across 49 countries. The majority (143/187; 76%) were gynecologic oncologists, and most were ≤50 years old (146/187; 78%). A total of 49.7% (93/187) were facing the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, while 26.7% (50/187) and 23.5% (44/187) were in the peak and plateau phases, respectively. For 97.3% (182/187) of respondents COVID-19 affected or changed their respective clinical practice. Between 16% (27/165) (before surgery) and 25% (26/102) (before medical treatment) did not perform any tests to rule out COVID-19 infection among patients. The majority of respondents did not alter indications of treatment if patients were COVID-19-negative, while treatments were generally postponed in COVID-19-positive patients. Treatments were considered priority for: early stage high-risk uterine cancers (85/187; 45%), newly diagnosed epithelial ovarian cancer (76/187; 41%), and locally advanced cervical cancer (76/187; 41%). Treatment of early stage low-grade endometrioid endometrial cancer was deferred according to 49% (91/187) of respondents, with hormonal treatment as the option of therapy (31%; 56/178). A total of 77% (136/177) of respondents reported no changes in (surgical) treatment for early stage cervical cancer in COVID-19-negative patients, while treatment was postponed by 54% (96/177) of respondent, if the patient tested COVID-19-positive. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy for advanced ovarian cancers was considered by over one-third of respondents as well as hypofractionation of radiation treatment for locally advanced cervical cancers.

Conclusion COVID-19 affected the treatment of gynecologic cancers patients, both in terms of prioritization and identification of strategies to reduce hospital access and length of stay. Social media is a reliable tool to perform fast-tracking, worldwide surveys.

  • gynecology
  • cervical cancer
  • ovarian cancer
  • uterine cancer
  • vulvar and vaginal cancer

This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ's website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.

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  • Contributors The authors equally contributed: in the project construction, data analysis, manuscript writing and approval.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. Data are available upon reasonable request. Write to